PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s calls for a new focus on job creation and improved education for the youth appear to ring hollow in their ears, with nearly a third (29 percent) of respondents to a survey saying they don’t believe anything he says.
The survey, by consumer insights company Pondering Panda, found a further 39 percent of the 10 246 young South Africans surveyed felt Zuma was not doing as much as he could to improve their lives.
It found only 32 percent of the sample took Zuma at face value, believing he was doing his best.
Pondering Panda – a member of the World of Avatar group, which owns MXit – used cellphones to gather the data for the poll in the wake of Zuma’s comments at the opening of the ANC policy conference in Midrand last week, where he called for a “giant leap” in economic transformation.
The conference appeared to spell the end of the government’s proposed youth wage subsidy and the adoption, instead, of a “job seekers grant”.
The ANC also proposed community service for all tertiary students, similar to that of medical graduates.
And the conference directed that a policy for free higher education must be finalised for the party’s elective conference in December for phased implementation as soon as possible.
These proposals have been welcomed by the ANC Youth League.
They will be fleshed out at the ANC’s national conference in Mangaung in December, after the party’s branches have discussed them and fine-tuned details of their possible implementation.
Only the national conference can make changes to ANC policy, which is then supposed to feed into government programmes.
The survey was aimed at measuring Zuma’s credibility among young South Africans on delivering on his promises relating to education and unemployment.
The respondents came from across the country, with nearly all aged 34 and younger and 51 percent aged between 18 and 24.
“The results show that President Zuma’s credibility has taken a serious knock among young people, with many of his promises falling on deaf ears,” said Butch Rice of Pondering Panda.
“Quite simply, many young people just don’t believe anything he says, a damning indictment of our president when it comes to young South Africans struggling to achieve a better future. His relatively stronger scores among the poor might indicate that efforts to alleviate poverty are starting to bear fruit. But even there, his credibility levels are alarmingly low.”
Pondering Panda found significant demographic differences in opinion, with 41 percent of young black South Africans most positive about Zuma’s efforts and believing in the sincerity of his efforts. Just under half the Indian and white respondents said they did not believe anything he said.
“Differences in attitude to Zuma’s credibility were also related to income, with the poorest being most positive about believing the president’s promises of improved education and job opportunities.
ANC Youth League spokeswoman Magdalene Moonsamy declined to comment on the survey’s findings on Zuma, but said yesterday the issues of youth unemployment, economic inequality, poverty and education raised at the policy conference were “the elephant in the room” and were not new.
“These are the issues the ANC Youth League has been talking about forever. Making the economy work for young people is one of the biggest challenges of our time,” Moonsamy said.
The youth league valued the fact that the ANC had highlighted these challenges, she added.